Pakistan Army’s special forces on Tuesday stormed a counter-terrorism centre in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and killed all 33 terrorists, ending a nearly twoday-long hostage crisis that had gripped the nation.
Two commandos of the special forces were also killed in the rescue operation that was launched after negotiations between the government and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants to end the hostage crisis failed.
Defence minister Khawaja Asif confirmed that “all the terrorists” of the Pakistani Taliban who had taken hostages at a Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) centre in Bannu were killed in an operation conducted by the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG).
“This operation was initiated on December 20 at 12:30pm by the Special Service Group and all terrorists were killed,” Asif said while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly.
He said that 33 terrorists were under arrest at the CTD compound and one of them had managed to snatch a gun from an employee after hitting him in the head with a brick.
The defence minister said that two commandos were killed while over a dozen were injured during the operation. Asif said that the militants had killed two hostages before the rescue operation.
He said that all remaining hostages were freed but didn’t provide their numbers. Earlier, police sources had said that about two dozen officials had been made hostages. He said that the entire CTD compound was cleared by 2:30pm. Earlier, officials said that all the terrorists were killed in the operation that lasted 15 minutes.
Footage aired on TV on Tuesday showed plumes of smoke rising in the air from the CTD compound.
The standoff began on Sunday when an arrested TTP militant, who was being interrogated at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police station inside the Bannu Cantonment, snatched an AK-47 from the police and opened fire.
He then freed other wanted militants being held at the building and together they took control of the compound. They also took several policemen as hostages. The TTP demanded safe passage for its militants either to South or North Waziristan districts.
The situation in Bannu remained tense on Tuesday as police and security agencies asked residents to remain indoors. A security alert was issued earlier and all schools and colleges in the Bannu district remained closed on Tuesday. Mobile services in the cantonment area and the surrounding areas were also suspended, officials said.